Developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment: same or different?

Psychol Bull. 2004 Nov;130(6):858-86. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.6.858.


Developmental dyslexia and specific language impairment (SLI) were for many years treated as distinct disorders but are now often regarded as different manifestations of the same underlying problem, differing only in severity or developmental stage. The merging of these categories has been motivated by the reconceptualization of dyslexia as a language disorder in which phonological processing is deficient. The authors argue that this focus underestimates the independent influence of semantic and syntactic deficits, which are widespread in SLI and which affect reading comprehension and impair attainment of fluent reading in adolescence. The authors suggest that 2 dimensions of impairment are needed to conceptualize the relationship between these disorders and to capture phenotypic features that are important for identifying neurobiologically and etiologically coherent subgroups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dyslexia / complications*
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis
  • Dyslexia / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Disorders / complications*
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Disorders / etiology
  • Phonetics
  • Speech Perception